Tories condemned for protecting winter fuel in 'colder' Scotland but not in England

Posted On: 
19th May 2017

Scottish pensioners will not face a cut to their winter fuel allowance under the Conservatives despite the elderly in England feeling the pinch - because it is colder north of the border.

Theresa May was up in Scotland today to help Ruth Davidson launch the Scottish Tory manifesto
Credit: 
PA Images

Unveiling her manifesto yesterday, Theresa May said the perk claimed by pensioners for their heating would be means-tested if she is re-elected next month.

But the Prime Minister gave way to demands from the Scottish Conservatives - who insisted the allowance would be protected for Scottish pensioners and exempt from means testing.

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Scottish Secretary David Mundell put the different stances down to the “climactic issues” north of the border, but Labour said it “lays bare” the Tory threat to pensioners.

Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader in Scotland, today unveiled her manifesto containing the promise to keep the £300 a year payment.

She told Sky News: “We believe that there shouldn’t be means testing for the winter fuel payments.

“Scotland has a colder climate, we also have a different amount of housing stock, and devolution allows you to make a different decision.

“I want to use that money in terms of the winter fuel payment, down south my colleagues want to put that into the health service.”

Mrs May said it was a simple matter of devolution and noted that the Scottish Government had been granted “significant powers” over welfare.

Mr Mundell explained to the Herald: “The specific view in relation to Scotland is that, obviously we have different climatic issues.

“We have a different geography and there are far more people off-grid, who receive their fuel from not the gas or electricity grid but in terms of liquid gas, for example.”

'CHEAP ELECTION BUNG'

But a Labour spokesperson mocked: “When the Scottish Tory leader comes out against her own party’s attack on pensioner incomes I think it’s fair to say the policy is starting to unravel.

“The Tory attack on pensioners’ winter fuel allowance is unfair and outrageous, and lays bare the threat they pose to pensioners’ security and living standards.

“The Tories should admit they’ve got it wrong, apologise and drop it immediately.”

And Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "The Tories are utter hypocrites. How can they take cash off English pensioners and then give it to Scottish pensioners? It looks like a cheap election bung and it won't wash.

"David Mundell then turns himself into a fourth rate Michael Fish to blame the climate of Scotland as a rationale for all this. They are just taking voters for a ride."